Missouri activists are launching a new campaign to put marijuana legalization on the 2022 ballot.
After the COVID-19 pandemic derailed an earlier effort to place the issue of legalization before voters last year, New Approach Missouri plans to unveil a modified ballot measure within the next few weeks.
The group successfully qualified a medical cannabis legalization initiative for the 2018 ballot, which voters approved.
While the new recreational measure will similarly establish a tax-and-regulate model for adult-use marijuana in the state, Missouri NORML’s Dan Viets told The Riverfront Times that this version will included expanded expand expungement provisions.
“Some of the other provisions related to discrimination and employment, I would say they are also some the most important things that we’ve incorporated into this,” he added.
Signature gathering is expected to start in August, John Payne, campaign manager of New Approach Missouri, said. But for the time being, text of the initiative has not been released.
“Based on the polling I’ve seen, I believe that a Missouri cannabis legalization ballot initiative would have a very good chance of success next year,” Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project, told Marijuana Moment.
“Cannabis would already be legal in Missouri were it not for the pandemic, which prevented the 2020 legalization campaign from completing its signature drive and qualifying its initiative for the November ballot,” he said.
Rep. Shamed Dogan (R) separately introduced a joint resolution in December that would put adult-use legalization to voters as a ballot measure, though it has not seen action since being referred to a House committee in May.
There’s reason to believe that the push to put legalization on the ballot next year will be successful. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, activists collected 80,000 raw signatures within months last year, and they needed 160,199 valid signatures to qualify.
Further, there’s added pressure on Missouri to enact a policy change given that neighboring Illinois implemented the reform in 2020 and has seen consistent, record-breaking sales.
Under the previous version of the recreational legalization initiative that New Approach Missouri championed, adults 21 and older would have been allowed to possess and purchase cannabis from licensed retailers and cultivate up to three plants for personal use.
Additionally, it would have imposed a 15 percent tax on marijuana sales, with revenue going toward veterans services, substance misuse treatment and infrastructure projects. Individuals with cannabis convictions would have been empowered to petition for resentencing or expungements.
Payne told Marijuana Moment that the group is still “a couple weeks from filing” their new measure with the secretary of state’s office.
The effort in Missouri is just one state-level push to qualify marijuana reform for 2022 ballots around the country.
Nebraska marijuana activists have announced plans for a “mass scale” campaign to put medical cannabis legalization on the state’s 2022 ballot.
Two measures were submitted in Wyoming this month to place medical cannabis legalization and adult-use decriminalization measures before voters in 2022.
Also this month, Idaho activists filed a measure to legalize marijuana possession for adults that they hope to place before voters on the 2022 ballot. That’s in addition to a separate medical cannabis effort in the state.
North Dakota activists are formulating plans for a marijuana legalization measure after lawmakers failed to enact the reform this session.
Meanwhile, the Florida Supreme Court has blocked two cannabis legalization initiatives for which activists had already collected thousands of signatures.
Photo courtesy of Kimberly Lawson.